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A cardiologist holds a stethoscope to check her patient's heart rate and rhythm.

Heart murmur

Heart murmurs are sounds in the heart caused by turbulent bloodflow. The sounds are often described as a whooshing or swishing noise, and can be heard when a doctor is checking your heart with a stethoscope. Although some heart murmurs are innocent, others could be a sign of heart disease. Health care providers can check the heart and create a treatment plan once they determine the cause of the murmur.

What are the symptoms of heart murmur?

  • Chest pain
  • Persistent cough
  • Swollen neck veins
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Blue or gray coloring of the fingernails or lips
  • Lack of growth in infants

What are the causes of heart murmur?

Innocent murmurs can be caused by a number of common factors.

  • Anemia
  • Exercise that increases heart rate
  • Fever
  • Growth spurts
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Pregnancy


More serious heart murmurs are often due to congenital conditions or acquired through heart damage or disease that occurs in adulthood.

  • Calcium deposits
  • Cardiac shunts
  • Endocarditis (infection of the heart’s inner lining and valves)
  • Holes found in the heart
  • Rheumatic fever

Are there different types of heart murmurs?

  • Diastolic murmurs occur when the heart is filling with blood.
  • Systolic murmurs happen when the heart is emptying.
  • A continuous murmur is present throughout the entire heartbeat.

What are the risk factors for heart murmur?

  • Anemia
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Family history
  • Heart disease
  • Overactive thyroid
  • Pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs)

How do I prevent heart murmur?

Murmurs in children often go away over time, but there is no specific form of prevention for congenital or acquired heart murmurs. Living a healthy lifestyle helps prevent conditions that can lead to heart murmurs in yourself and your children.

How do you treat a heart murmur?

Innocent heart murmurs do not require treatment. However, a worrisome heart murmur needs close monitoring by a cardiologist. Medication or surgery may be needed.

  • Medications used to treat heart murmurs:
    • Blood thinners
    • Water pills
    • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
    • Beta blockers
  • Heart valve repairs are used to treat heart murmurs and can be done as:
    • Open-heart surgery
    • Minimally invasive heart surgery
    • Robotic heart surgery
    • Catheter procedure

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